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Adware and false virus alerts

Square Circle Consulting has been helping with Mac security issues more frequently lately. Here are some thoughts about these issues, and steps recommended for safer computing. As always, please backup before making any changes.


Adware is software that displays unwanted ads. This software often redirects web searches and changes home pages to display ads based on search history. In some cases, ads are injected into other pages as users browse the web. Apple's article on popups and adware provides steps for manually removing some adware.

Sources include deceptive updaters, such as fake Flash and Safari updates, and useful software bundled with adware. Since installers typically have full access to the Mac, users should download software directly from known, trusted companies.

False virus alerts

Users have also reported seeing false virus alerts pop up while web browsing. When users call the number displayed in the warning, agents ask for a credit card number and remotely pretend to diagnose and clean the Mac via screen sharing. Since screen sharing can allow full access to the Mac, users should only allow remote control by known, trusted companies.

Legitimate anti-virus software presents alerts when downloading infected files, but doesn't urge users to call a phone number.


Square Circle Consulting recommends these steps for safer computing:

  1. Review backup strategies.
  2. Only install software from known, trusted sources. Avoid opening downloads and email attachments from unknown sources.
  3. Install security updates as they become available. Apple , Adobe , and Microsoft regularly release security updates, sometimes for issues that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code.
  4. Upgrade as needed to remain supported (after reviewing hardware and software compatibility.) Vendors disclose security issues as updates are released, but these vulnerabilities are typically only patched on the current and previous versions.
  5. Since security is ever changing, it's important to run up-to-date, commercial anti-virus software to monitor Macs for the latest known threats.

Contact Square Circle Consulting to keep your Macs - and your projects - running smoothly.